The Anglican church had a century-long history of working with the government to run close to 30 residential schools for Indigenous children. Though individual participants may have had nobler intentions, the underlying colonial aim was to break Indigenous cultures, and to assimilate the children into the bottom rungs of a hierarchical society. Doing that, we destroyed families and communities, and drove students and their parents, siblings and children into dysfunction and addiction. Many were also sexually abused.
We recognized our wrongdoing and withdrew from running the schools in 1969. It took us another quarter century to apologize to former students and their families. We’ve been trying to live into that apology ever since, pushing for justice, healing and reconciliation. This is also a process of decolonizing ourselves.
More recently we helped establish the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and have supported its work to share the stories of Indigenous peoples’ school experiences, and their limitless, intergenerational trauma. It is our central spiritual work. It’s also our legal obligation, under court order.
The TRC will begin its final national gathering May 31 in Ottawa. Join us in moving the reconciliation work forward by committing to listen to a different school survivor tell his or her story on this website during each of the 22 days between then and National Aboriginal Day, June 21, and to pray for everyone affected.
This is the first step in a long journey towards facing our demons and reconciliation. It’s also a wonderful invitation to spiritual and emotional growth and new life.